Roundup: Houston film festival wraps up with widening window to China

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HOUSTON, April 14 (Xinhua) -- The 52nd WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival concluded Sunday, with insiders hoping that the festival will create a platform for emerging young talented people and a window to China.

The "Family", a 2018 musical film directed by Hongmei Liu from China, won the Special Jury Remi award. The film, adapted from the semi-autobiographical novel by Chinese author Ba Jin, tells stories about three young people from a feudal noble family in China's Sichuan Province in the early 1920s, exploring the hypocrisy and decay of the feudal system while praising mind openness and critical thinking of a new generation.

Some other Chinese films also won gold, silver or bronze Remi awards in their categories.

There are 801 total Remi entries from the 52nd WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival. During the festival, 10 major categories of competition, including over 60 new independent feature films and 108 award-winning shorts as well as documentaries and student projects from around the globe, were screened. Only one Grand Remi Award was given to the top winner in each of the major ten categories.

The Remi Award is named after Frederic Remington, whose brilliant sculptures and paintings captured the spirit of Texas and the West of the United States.

As a part of the film festival, the WorldFest Focus on China brought the screenings of 15 Chinese feature films along with several Chinese short subjects, providing a window of the emerging Chinese film production for American audiences.

During the festival, prominent Chinese actress, dancer and educator Zhou Jie was awarded Remi Career Achievement Award for her contribution to arts. Hunter Todd, chairman of WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, said the award is to "recognize her unwavering dedication to the arts and to our community."

WorldFest-Houston Chairman Hunter Todd has said that he considered the WorldFest Focus on China as a platform to provide opportunities for emerging Chinese directors and a window to China.

In fact, it's a platform for emerging film makers all around the world. Meanwhile, Chinese film makers reflect on film industry's contribution in cultural communication between China and the West, in particular the United States..

Jizhong Zhang, a well-known film producer and director in China, said Chinese film works, which carry historical traditions, cultural resources and aesthetic styles, are the best medium for Chinese culture to go global, but challenges do exist, such as the differences between Chinese and American values, and the translation problems.

"So it's really important to find commonalities across different cultures as it helps Chinese culture go global," Zhang said during an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

And the key to cultural exchange is to enhance cultural mutual trust and to maintain an open, inclusive mentality. "On this basis, we could break the barriers of cultural cognition and find common values."

Zhang gave an example of Journey to the West. "We want to adapt the work to a globally acceptable fantasy, exploring the meaning of human life," he said, adding that "I really want to bring the essence of our Chinese culture to the world. We are working on it persistently."

Ryan Jacobson, a high school student who is making short programs for his school TV studio, told Xinhua that his plan is to make documents and want to learn something, but it's the first time for him to attend the film festival closing night gala.

He said, "I viewed the Chinese opening night movie 'The Star and The Sea' and I can understand the development of story. I like it."

One of the two opening-night movies of the festival, "The Star and The Sea," co-directed by Li Qiankuan and Xiao Guiyun and first screened in China in 2011, is a moving drama about the impoverished childhood of one of China's most famous composers, Xian Xinghai. His "Yellow River Cantata" was the most inspiring piece of music during the Chinese War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression in World War II.

Li and Xiao, both honorary life chairpersons of WorldFest-Houston, told Xinhua last week that diversity of arts and cultures is one of the highlights for the festival, and "cultural activities are very helpful in improving understanding between China and the United States."

WorldFest-Houston was founded over 52 years ago as Cinema Arts, an International Film Society in August 1961. It has since evolved into the third competitive international film festival in North America, following San Francisco and New York film festivals.

One of the world's oldest independent film festivals, WorldFest boasts discovering a long list of heavyweights including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Ang Lee. Enditem

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